Adding fuel to this fire, see the CR Daily report, which appears below, on a recent blog show featuring remarks by Chairman Voller. What is the reference to the payment to Mr. Chavis all about? I thought that he had never received any money from the state party. And what about all of the accusations against fellow party faithfuls made by Chairman Voller? Has he opened a Pandora's Box of dysfunction, prejudice and corruption festering within the State Democratic Party? It makes me glad that I am now unaffiliated, as the Democratic Party, at least as a state-wide organization, seems to be hell-bent on self-destruction.
North Carolina Democratic Party Chair Voller: Unleashed
On February 17, Randy Voller, Chairman of the NC Democratic Party joined host Bram Sarkowski on his online blog show (63:27), “The Social Spitball,” and went on what amounts to a tirade against some of his party members.
As the conversation began, Voller talks of his time spent “advocating pardon for the Wilmington Ten,” which were convicted of arson and conspiracy and spent nearly a decade in jail. While they were convicted initially, their sentences were overturned in 1980 and, the then governor, Bev Purdue pardoned them in 2012.
As the interview continues, Voller begins to lash out at several party members. He goes into deep detail about the firing of Tammy Bruenner NCDP Executive Director, who Voller first fired when he became chair. He claims that there were “abuses of party resources, such as using LexisNexis and other forms of research against people in our own party,” he claimed, “including me.” He continued, “I kept quiet about this but seeing as what happened last week, I wanted shine the sunlight on this stuff.”
After the firing of the Executive Director, turmoil ensued. “We had to have a conference call of 600 people,” Voller stated. Citing key figures that were meeting and the “mess” that ensued, Voller claimed, “It was the reason for several of the resignations that occurred, including Micah’s.” Micah Beasley was the Communications Director, until his resignation. “When this happened,” Voller said, “ IT and communications were locked down.”
Sarkwoski then asks him about State Auditor Beth Woods, who sent an email to Voller calling him a crook, saying she lacks confidence that her money will be spent wisely, and wants her $500 back. Voller states that, “she has every right to want her money back, but I do not agree that I am a crook. It’s fine if she wakes up one day and wants her money back, but in that email to say that I am a crook and she lacks confidence in me is wrong.”
In the next breath, without an ounce of irony, Voller states, “I am almost done with the 2012 audit.” He also goes on to claim the NCDP, “isn’t making any money,” and is “not paying their bills. The $9,000 to Chavis was well overdue.” Maybe Woods has a point? He goes on to blame the debt on Russ Swindell’s, former congressman Bob Etheridge’s Chief of Staff, campaign and redistricting laws. He also blames the lack of funds on weak donors. “When we lost in 2012,” he says, “We lost transactional donors and big money donors”. He claims that the mess Perdue and Easley left him with have caused donors to keep their pocketbooks closed.
The extent of the interview however, is Voller defending Chavis from attacks from his own party. “You see people like Tiffany Richardson,” former NCDP Finance Director, who resigned the same day as Beasley, “resigning and nobody’s giving Elaine Marshall grief over her resigning.” He continued to go after Elaine Marshall, the current Secretary of State, saying that they are “trying to throw punches… trying to see what sticks.” Voller continues that there is “latent racism, which causes a fear of Chavis, in the State Executive Committee (SEC).” It looks like the NCDP has found its historical roots. “We are afraid to try something unconventional,” he surmises. Yes, because nothing says unconventional, and go NC Dems., about hiring a charged domestic terrorist (Wilmington Ten), who while at the NAACP, had to resign due to sexual misconduct and the NAACP had to bay $332,400 to an employee, and be second in command to the anti-Semitic Nation of Islam under Farrakhan. To make matters worse, the co-host uses the word lynch to describe what happened to Chavis.
Despite his tirade against the entirety of the SEC, Voller sees hope in the future. “I hope that we can move past this in Greensboro. I hope we can each stand up and say, “hey this is what I did wrong.”” I guess that the irony of unity is lost upon Chairman Voller, especially after this interview.
The state-wide petition referenced in the article below, which appeared in The Charlotte Post, indicates that Dempsey was fired because of his lack of concern for minorities within the Democratic Party. Other reports say it was because he spent too much time on the Hagan campaign. Which is it? Is this fiasco exposing a racial divide in the North Carolina Democratic Party, as the tone of the petition seems to imply? What a mess!
Judith Robb Bullock
Chavis ready to lead N.C. Democrats
Controversial nomination splits party
Published Monday, February 24, 2014 3:26 pm
by Cash Michaels, The Carolinian
In the aftermath of the recent political firestorm surrounding the nomination of Benjamin Chavis as executive director of the North Carolina Democratic Party, Chavis says he can and will help the party muster the votes to win this fall.
But only if the state party can overcome its internal differences and divisions and unify in asking him to help.
Chavis’ nomination was temporarily withdrawn amid concerns from moderate and conservative Democrats about his past, which includes allegations of sexual harassment as executive director of the NAACP and an official with the Nation of Islam.
Meanwhile, a statewide letter petition is being circulated to Democrats, asking the NCDP Executive Council to back Chairman Randy Voller in his efforts to recruit Chavis. In addition, support among black Democrats is growing as the party’s African-American Caucus has issued a statement backing Voller and Chavis.
In an exclusive interview with The Carolinian and Wilmington Journal newspapers , Chavis said, “It is up to the [NCDP]…” if he is to become executive director. “I would never try to impose my leadership on anyone or anything.”
Chavis says Voller, whom he had known for only a short time since the Wilmington Ten Pardons of Innocence Project and supported as chair, approached Chavis with the offer to become interim NCDP executive director.
The previous executive director, Robert Dempsey, was summarily fired by Voller on Feb. 9, according to that statewide petition letter to the state Executive Council, because he allegedly, “…has ignored matters brought to his attention by members of minority groups within the Democratic Party. The members are loyal voting Democrats, and on a daily basis fight Governor (Pat) McCrory and General Assembly Republicans, while experience unprofessional treatment within one’s own party is outrageous.”
Gracie Galloway, Democratic chairperson of the Eighth Congressional District, which includes Mecklenburg County, confirmed in an interview that Dempsey was unresponsive to the needs of “minority” members of the NCDP, having dealt with him personally on several organizational issues.
Chavis was moving back to North Carolina to pursue other opportunities – particularly to help historically black colleges and universities – but says he was willing to lend his talents and services to the NCDP when Voller made the executive director offer for what is considered a crucial midterm election year.
But once word leaked out, it didn’t take long for Chavis to realize that those in the party who opposed the progressive politics of Voller were moving to block his nomination.
“Some of the people who opposed Voller used this as an opportunity to create their own agenda,” Chavis said. “I thought that when the chairman of the [state] Democratic Party extended an overture, that his overture was representative of the political will of at least a majority of the officials at the party.”
He explained: “I would have never entertained the idea of becoming executive director of the NCDP if I didn’t feel that it was a sincere overture.”
Chavis said Voller had hoped to unite all factions of the party around a massive voter registration effort, which needed to start immediately in order to generate enough of a statewide base to carry the Democrats to victory in November. The key was to do what the Obama campaign successfully did in 2008, namely bring new voters into the base.
With a tight statewide race expected for incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan and redistricting essentially making almost every Republican-leaning voting district bulletproof on the state and congressional levels, many felt Chavis’ experience at running voter registration campaigns plus his skills communicating with young people through his Hip Hop Action Network with Russell Simmons might be the NCDP’s best hope of taking North Carolina back from the Republicans.
Chavis said there are 1 million unregistered voters, many of them black or Latino.
“My motive was to come to serve the people of North Carolina, to serve institutions of higher learning, and to serve those, heretofore, whose rights have been denied and suppressed,” Chavis said.
But before his plane could touch down Feb. 11 in Raleigh, Democrats opposed to Voller had revived allegations of sexual harassment against Chavis from his days as executive director of the NAACP 20 years ago and his brief membership in the Nation of Islam.
Chavis says though there was a settlement of a sexual harassment allegation when he was executive director of the NAACP in 1994, it was a “totally false” allegation, with no admission of guilt.
He also vehemently denied charges of anti-Semitism that grew out of his relationship with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Chavis said he works with Jews “almost every day,” adding that his critics would be hard-pressed to find any statements by him expressing hatred of Jewish people, because he’s never made any.
Chavis said he hasn’t been a member of the NOI for years, and is a member of Oak Level United Church of Christ in Manson, N.C.
Chavis says what has happened in the past two weeks proves that there is a fear in North Carolina that is not just generated by Republicans, and that’s what has North Carolina “trending backwards.”
“If the [NCDP] wants me to serve [as executive director], I am open to that overture, but it’s up to them,” he said. “I’m not going to stand still.”
Chavis asked Voller to withdraw his nomination, possibly to regroup in 30 days.
Last week, a statewide petition letter, addressed to the NCDP State Executive Council, not only denounced the attacks on Chavis, but challenges those members to own up to the party’s own misdeeds of sexual harassment coverups and criminal corruption by elected officials before they judge the civil rights leader.
Eighth District Chairperson Gracie Galloway says she wants Democrats to sign the letter and send it to Voller at N.C. Democratic Party headquarters. Galloway calls what happened to Chavis “ a travesty.”
After I commented on the May 24, 2013 Under the Dome story, “Robert Dempsey to take helm at N.C. Democratic Party”, a post appeared in another blog (Chatham County On-Line) by “Kleigh”, a political surrogate for Chairman Randy Voller. “Kleigh” stated that she made Voller aware of my comment. She also stated that Voller recorded a phone conversation with me (in 2006) and retained a copy. This was news to me. She proceeded to belittle me on topics ranging from my father’s suicide to my own struggle with major depressive disorder---information I shared with Voller during that private conversation.
What Chairman Voller failed to realize is that I am not ashamed for people to know that I struggle with depression. Nor am I ashamed for people to know that my father also suffered from this illness, which eventually led to his suicide. What IS shameful is that the Chairman of the State Democratic Party recorded a private telephone conversation in which I shared this sensitive information with him, retained the tape of this conversation for almost seven years, and then divulged it to a political surrogate for vindictive dissemination. Shame on him!
Judith Robb Bullock
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